Govt assures farmers it will curb vegetable smuggling

Apr. 27, 2009

DAVAO CITY — The government has assured participants in the recently concluded First Vegetable Marketing Summit that it is serious in curbing the illegal entry of imported vegetables.

Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap, in his message during the summit, said the government remains committed to protect the interests of Filipino farmers and legitimate importers.

Vicmin president Roger Gualberto earlier expressed concern of local vegetable farmers of the entry of imported vegetables, such as garlic and onion, from China and India. Gualberto also relayed that farmers inreasingly worried as the country is poised to implement the tariff-free policy on imported vegetables starting next year in ompliance with its agreement with the World Trade Organization.

Yap initially addressed the smuggling issue, stressing that it destroys local economies and exacerbates poverty in the country as over-supply of imported cheap agricultural products means business closure to local providers, who find it difficult to compete.

He shared that such illegal activity also affects the government. “It translates to loss of revenues that deprives the country of much-needed funds to cover the national government’s budget deficit and provide additional services on education and other poverty alleviation programs.”

This has pushed DA through its Bureau of Plant Industry to strictly implement quarantine rules especially on the conduct of pest risk analysis on new vegetable imports.

Yap also shared that the campaign against smuggling has been intensified with the support of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) agreeing to review ship manifesto and import permits.

The DA has also proposed that the BOC should conduct a 100 percent strip search of full examinations of all reefer vans and refrigerated containers.

The 1st National Vegetable Marketing Summit was supported by the DA and the US-Aid to converge all players in the vegetable industry to discuss and settle issues especially on marketing their produce. (PIA XI)

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